An island that offers the quintessential idyllic Greek escape, you’ll encounter glorious coastlines, stunning inland landscapes and colourful and vibrant towns throughout your Santorini holidays, exposing you to one of the most fascinating destinations in Greece. Discovering this island will see you discovering the heart and soul of Greece and its culture, with charming villages and towns exposing visitors to the cuisine, friendly welcomes and architecture of the country, wherever you choose to reside on the island.
Miles of rambling landscape and brightly-painted dwellings create a dreamlike vision of this beautiful island, as you stroll through its picturesque cobbled streets, absorbing beautiful sights and authentic flavours. There are so many things to do during your holidays to Santorini, from cultural and historical discovery to beach break indulgence, ensuring endless variety to your holiday, and while Athens sits just a short ferry ride away, you’ll find Santorini is also one of the most accessible Greek islands.
With a stunning vision of white and blue, the houses of the town in Firostefani provide an endlessly picturesque location to make your base during your time on the island. Modern 5-star hotels and cosy places to stay can be found here, some with the added bonus of an incredible sea view. While the vistas provided by the coast are memorable, often the most striking of views during Santorini holidays are the precariously perched houses climbing up the face of a dramatic cliff. This is the view that will meet those staying in the traditional and authentically-Greek villages of Oia and Fira, peering out over the ocean as a sea of whitewashed splendour.
You’ll always find yourself immersed in that quaint and infectious Greek charm, wherever it is you choose to base yourself in Santorini. Whether you’re looking for secluded charm and idyllic locations or black-pebbled beaches and plenty of things to do for the family, you’ll find your perfect spot to call home during your holidays in Santorini. Those really looking to immerse themselves in culture and history should opt to stay in the beautiful coastal town of Kamari, with accommodation interspersed with Greek ruins and glorious beaches – allowing an ideal balance between discovery and coastal indulgence.
Top hotels in Santorini
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Even if you’ve never been to Santorini, you’ve probably been seduced by it’s picture-perfect charm; inviting white Cycladic houses, spectacular panoramic views and the beckoning azure waters of the Aegean. Think you know all the reasons to go? Here…
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Average flight time: 3h 55m
Perhaps not as common as London or New York, Greece has still played host to a number of great films which made us want to jet off to one of the Mediterranean islands and take some great shots of our own. If you’d like to find out a bit more about…
When to go
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Stretches of sandy beach seduce sun-worshippers and water sports fans, while charming Greek towns offer delicious dining and lively nightlife opportunities, serving holidaying families and couples after a fulfilling experience of Greece. Santorini’s coastline is understandably a draw for many holidaymakers. Stretches of sun-drenched beaches offer ideal spots for topping up your tan during Santorini holidays, as well as snorkelling, scuba-diving and many other water sports. Revel in the beauty of the coastline with a day cruise along the island’s littoral towns, taking in the spectacular beaches of the small resort of Oia on your way and catching a glimpse of Ios.
If you can drag yourself away from lazing on the beach, Santorini’s historical attractions are well worth a visit. As well as the fascinating Ancient Thera, the beautiful Minoan city ruins of Akrotiri make for an incredible insight into the island’s past, excavated from three stories of volcanic ash – a must-visit on your Santorini holidays, before heading back to the sand to work on your tan.
If you’d rather be at the heart of the action during your stay on Santorini, you’ll love the many festivals that occur throughout the area. Amass with the colour of vivid blooms and extravagant street processions; the island becomes a hub of celebration during these times. Take a trip to the small town of Monolithos at the end of July to witness the festival of Agios Ioannis for an authentic glimpse Greek culture on your holidays to Santorini, or simply sit back in a lively bar by the sea and sip on ouzo as the sun sets – that’s cultural too right!?
Wine and Dine
One of the top Santorini attractions is the island’s local sweet white wine. Produced by vineyards on the main island of Thira, this sweet wine is perfectly paired with watching the sunset from the rooftop terrace in Firostefani or an after dinner treat with sweet meletinia in calming Kamari. Make sure to try delectable dishes made with Santorini’s fresh cherry tomatoes and capers, and the savoury fava dip prepared in the regional Santorini way. Bustling restaurants and gyros shops can be found in the capital of Fira, while seaside tavernas in Perissa and cliff face restaurants in Oia have an air of calm, in addition to delicious food.
Family holidays on Santorini are a treat, and all of the family will fall in love with this small Aegean island. As you start your holiday and are all feeling energetic there’s some excellent hiking routes around Oia or even a full day organised sightseeing tour around the island to help you get your bearings. Depending what has taken your fancy there, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera or the Monastery of Profitas IIias are also highly recommended for a glimpse into Santorini’s rich past. Relax a little as you unwind and sample some of the excellent local wines from the Wine Museum Koutsogiannopoulos, before rolling out the bathing gear to take in some of Santorini’s excellent and varied volcanic beaches. Monolithos is a great option for the family, with the kids’ playground to keep the little people occupied before you head for some tasty local seafood in one of the excellent hotels. To close a perfect day, Oia’s sunsets are truly a treat, and a fitting end to a special family holiday on Santorini.
Action and Adventure
One of the more active things to do in Santorini is to explore the parts of the island separated by the 236BC eruption. Take a cruise around the volcanic islets and go ashore on Thirasia, the second largest island of Santorini, or an excursion to the remnants of the volcano in the centre of the islands. On the beach side of Thira, there is always the ever popular snorkelling and kayaking that explores Santorini from the sea and under the water. For a thrilling view of the islands, take a helicopter flight and soar to new heights.
Life's a Beach
Beach holidays in Santorini are full of natural beauty, sun and stunning sands. The volcanic coloured pebbles of Red Beach are a great place to start, with its beautiful cliff backdrop providing some welcome shade. Kamari Beach resort is also a must, with sunbeds, umbrellas and water sports if you’re feeling in the mood for some adrenaline. Be sure that your holiday in Santorini also takes in the ancient ruins of Thera, a mountainside city on a ridge of the Messavouno mountain with stunning views out to sea. Perissa Beach and its unique black volcanic sands is close by for chilling out after your mountain trek. Head out to Cape Columbo for rugged, wind beaten scenery and a more remote experience from the managed beaches, before heading round for some beach volleyball and lunch in one of Monolithos’ fine hotels. Beach holidays in Santorini offer up plenty of variety thanks to the island’s volcanic past, and you are sure to return refreshed and invigorated.
The Santorini nightlife scene will make your holiday unforgettable, and you’ll be bowled over by the quality and variety of venues on the island. Start out on the balcony of the Tropical Bar for some good conversation and cool import beers. As the evening goes on, a sunset view, cocktails and stunningly tasteful music are not to be missed in Franco’s, before you head on to one of the many excellent clubbing spots in Santorini. Enigma will be your place for cool holiday hangouts and modern dance vibes, Town Club has excellent DJs and beats, and the Full Moon Bar in Perissa is an absolute must on any serious clubber’s itinerary. If cocktails are your thing, there’s excellent value to be found in Dorian’s Pub, or fresh local fruit, champagne and dancing at the Tango Bar. For some much-needed early morning recuperation after a long Aegean night in Santorini, take yourself down to the Pure Coffee Bar in Fira for early morning fresh coffee, tasty breakfasts and music to suit the holiday mood.
There’s nothing more romantic than sipping some sweet wine in a hot tub with your partner while watching the sun set over the Aegean. Complete a couple’s wish-list of Santorini attractions with a visit to two of the island’s most popular draws: the wineries and the hot springs. The wines are some of the most distinctive in the Mediterranean, and there are several vineyards to visit on the main island. The hot springs are along the active volcano and provide a thrilling yet relaxing time on holiday in Santorini. Hear from local guides about the supposed powers of these natural baths and take a few panoramic shots before exploring the crater. To complete the perfect romantic retreat, take a short ride to the village of Oia and pick a spot to watch the vibrant yet seemingly endless sunsets from the cliffs. A rooftop restaurant will also do just fine!
Once thought of as the site of mythical Atlantis, Santorini is actually home to a number of archaeological sites and museums. Recently reopened to the public after refurbishment, the covered site of Ancient Akrotiri is like a playground for culture vultures and definitely a highlight of things to do in Santorini. The site was first excavated in 1967 and revealed three-story buildings, furniture, and paintings covered in volcanic ash from a Bronze Age eruption. On the other side of the island, Ancient Thira is a settlement that was home for the island’s inhabitants from the 9th century BC to Roman and Byzantine times. Check out the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Prehistoric Thira for an air-conditioned look at the treasures of the island. For more recent history and art, pay a visit to the Megaro Gyzi Museum for an exhibition of photographs after the 1956 earthquake.